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The Toll of the Sea

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The Toll of the Sea

Published November 26, 1922

From the Wikipedia entry for "The Toll of the Sea":

"The Toll of the Sea is a 1922 American motion picture, directed by Chester M. Franklin, produced by the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation, and released by Metro Pictures in 1922, featuring Anna May Wong in her first leading role. It was the eighth color feature film, the second Technicolor feature, the first color feature made in Hollywood, and the first color feature anywhere that did not require a special projector to be shown. The original camera negative survives except for the final 2 reels. In 1985 the UCLA Film and Television Archive preserved the film from the original 35 mm nitrate negative. Because modern film technology was used to create a color print instead of the original Technicolor Process 2, which involved cementing together two film strips base to base, the resulting image quality is likely better than the original prints appeared."

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Run time 54 minutes 34 seconds
Audio/Visual silent, color


Reviewer: Rainy Tuesday at the Movies - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 8, 2013
Subject: Anna Forever
Anna May Wong had Beauty, Grace, and Poetry. Not only that, but she was damned sexy as well. It is her poignant performance and her performance alone that puts over this Madame Butterfly tale. The line on Anna May Wong is that she was relegated to playing too many exotic and Dragon Lady roles. That is true. But an actor or actress should be judged by what they can accomplish within the limitations of the roles they are given. Anna May Wong lifted every film she ever appeared in into something worth seeing. This is one of her best. Watch it---Now.
Reviewer: Dark Moon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 6, 2011
Subject: Very well done, for sure!

The story follows Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly, very closely, though they took a few liberties. At the beginning of the film, Lotus Flower is portrayed as something of a gold digger, saying "Christian lady at Mission tell me America fine place. Women free—can spend all husband's money." Also near the beginning, Allan Carver is shown succumbing to peer pressure not to take home a Chinese wife, which renders him merely a coward, rather than the case-hardened bastard that Pinkerton is in Butterfly. He is shown as being intensely ashamed when he comes back, and his American wife as very sympathetic (they both travel there on her insistence to apologize), all of which softens their characters considerably. Lotus Flower voluntarily gives up her son to them, whereas in Butterfly, the Pinkertons travel to Japan only because they have heard that Cio-Cio San has had a son—they come for the express purpose of taking him away from her. Madama Butterfly is a serious condemnation of the American Character; that story was toned down considerably (partly by impugning Lotus Flower's character) for this film. Nevertheless, if you like this film, do treat yourself to a quality production of Madama Butterfly (unfortunately not available here on IA), where you will get to hear Puccini's incomparable music.

Viewers will immediately notice that this film is heavy on the reds and greens, as are all two-color processes (such as Cinecolor). Camera and processing technologies were not yet advanced enough to handle all three primary colors (or, at least, doing so was not yet commercially feasible), so they chose red and green because flesh tones can be rendered fairly accurately with those two.

For those interested in the story (and restoration) background for this film, Wikipedia has articles on The Toll of the Sea and Madama Butterfly. For the fascinating history of early cinematic color processes, there is the Early Color Motion Picture Processes section of the WideScreen Museum, and a Wikipedia article on the history of Technicolor. Only a few of the films mentioned there are available here at IA (most of the later ones are probably still in copyright). Many thanks to the uploader for providing this one.
Reviewer: Dr Feel Rotten - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 24, 2011
Subject: What a bastard!
What absolute bastard this guy was and poor Lotus Flower... The guy needed his head examined and this was a REAL tear jerker.. Very well done..
Please don't delete this.. Wonderfully done.
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